CITYWIDE — Santa Monica has been a hot spot for New Year’s Eve parties since at least the 1890s.
Back then the fire department held annual masquerade balls that were the talk of the Los Angeles area.
In the early 1900s, Santa Monica casinos and the church groups alike held massive late-night feasts.
On New Year’s Eve 1932, a year before the repeal of prohibition, Santa Monica cops raided a bootlegging operation on 11th Street. Surely the bootlegger, Kenneth O’Dell, was just a bad apple in an otherwise dry, law-abiding city.
This New Year’s Eve, liquor is not only legal but also plentiful in the city the sea.
So plentiful, in fact, that the Santa Monica Police Department will be out in larger numbers, said Lt. Richard Lewis.
He urged the public not to drink and drive or shoot guns into the air.
Lewis wouldn’t say where specifically the force would be beefed up but said it would likely be in “areas around the city that serve alcohol and that are publicizing New Year’s Eve parties.”
SMPD will have their hands full because the city is full of such parties.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) website, SantaMonica.com, has dozens of options posted.
Prices for the events range wildly, from the cover charge-less DJ set with free midnight champagne at the Daily Pint to the $275 per person second seating at Melisse, which includes Maine lobster, lamb loin and caviar.
While most restaurants are thankful that prohibition is over, Areal is heading back there with a Roaring ‘20s themed party. First seating costs $55 and the second $95.
The Viceroy Hotel’s black and white ball will set you back $175 and include Asian rice bowls and KCRW DJs. Across the street at Casa del Mar listen to the sounds of the Full Spectrum Band, taking you on a musical journey through jazz, swing, blues, disco and class rock. There will also be a festive midnight balloon drop and champagne cheers, all for just $40.
The CVB doesn’t keep stats on New Year’s Eve business, but a representative said that they’ve heard the hotels are pretty full this year.
Not everyone goes out to the bars and restaurants to ring in the new year, however. Eight of the 10 people the Daily Press spoke with had plans to either stay in or go to house parties.
Kimber Maderazzo, of Santa Monica, is throwing a themed party at her place for the fifth year in a row. While the rest of the world moves into 2014, her party will go in the other direction.
“This year it’s an ‘80s dance party,” she said. “Hopefully this one’s the best theme yet.”
Local activist Jerry Rubin threw big New Year’s Eve parties for about 30 years, he said, but a few years ago he and his wife decided to give it a rest.
“I’m probably planning staying up to 10 minutes after midnight, watch that ball come down, feed our pussycats, and hit the hay,” he said.
Ripta Pasay isn’t sure what his plans are yet. He’s new to Santa Monica and is going to play it by ear.
Charles Davis, who was waiting for a bus on Santa Monica Boulevard, said he’s going to DJ a house party at an undisclosed address nearby.
Ben Maloney, who is visiting the West Coast from New York, does plan to check out what Santa Monica has to offer.
“My friend was pushing for this place called The Bungalow but we haven’t made reservations yet so who knows if that’s even still an option,” he said, laughing. “I’ll definitely be at one of the places around here. We’re staying in Santa Monica and I don’t want to venture far from the hotel.”
Maloney will likely not be at The Bungalow as the clock strikes midnight because it is not, in fact, still an option. The $150 black tie dance party, hosted by DJ Vanville, sold out last week.